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Mark Noble says that a lot of fans “don’t understand the game”

West Ham captain responds to his critics

Southampton v West Ham United - Premier League Photo by Michael Steele/Getty Images

Mark Noble is the West Ham United captain for a variety of reasons, most of which have nothing to do with his ability on the pitch. Noble has never been the most physically gifted footballer, but he has always made up for his shortcomings, so to speak, with drive and sheer will. He has been at the club since he was 11, was a boyhood fan of the team, and more than any other player at the club, really represents the dream of any fan, that a kid from East London could grow up, pull on the Claret and Blue shirt and walk out and play at places like Old Trafford in front of television cameras against the best footballers in the world.

It is therefore disappointing to read or hear what he said today when responding to fans that have called for him to be dropped. He told Sky Sports News "If I am really honest, a lot of people who now go to football don't really understand the game.” He continued “Football is a game of moments now and if someone does four step-overs, they've had an incredible game.”

I don’t think any West Ham fans would expect Noble to be a player that does step-overs, Cruyff turns, or Rabonas goals. What West Ham fans do expect from Noble, however, is passion, commitment, and good decision making. While no one can doubt his passion for the club or his commitment, he has not been the force of nature that he has been in years past, the whirling dervish of angry energy in the middle of the pitch. And as a result, the fans are suggesting that maybe Noble not start every game. Now, it appears that Bilić trusts Noble on the pitch, and maybe he’s right that Noble brings the famed “intangibles” that fans can’t always see.

However, for Noble to basically call out fans that pay good money to sit in those seats, sing songs about him and the club, and cheer the team on, good or bad, just feels wrong. West Ham fans are supposed to be more authentic than the prawn sandwich clubs, and for the captain to suggest that the fans don’t know anything is a tad insulting. The team has struggled, and Noble hasn’t always been on top of his game as well, so it’s not as if the fans are calling for Roy Keane or Patrick Vieira in their primes to ride the bench.

The reaction on twitter to Noble’s comments were the usual level-headed, calm responses we’ve all come to expect from football fans across the world.